I first came to Buckingham Chapel when I was 4 years old, when my family moved to Bristol from Gloucester. I attended Sunday school and church on a regular basis right up to about the age of 17/18. I stopped going because one Sunday night I fell asleep in the service. It all just went in one ear and out the other as I found it all very boring, I really didn’t have time for all of it.
It wasn’t that I didn’t believe, in fact I can say I have always believed.
I believed in God, that He had created all things, that Jesus His Son had come to earth, died and that He had rose again and that He will return again at the end of the world.
But it was all just information to me like a history lesson and it didn’t mean any more than that. It didn’t mean anything to me personally.
I attended a Billy Graham rally when I was about 18 and was very moved emotionally by the experience so much so I thought I had become a Christian. I was very enthusiastic and caught up with it all but it was a short lived experience. I soon moved on and forgot all about it. I even told one person who later asked me about it that it had been a ‘phase’ I was going through.
In my twenties and early thirties I lived life with no thought of God, and like a lot of people I did what I wanted to. Relationships, socializing and entertainment were what mattered. The people I saw as Christians had no ‘fun’ as I saw it and some I even thought were hypocrites as their lives didn’t live through what they said they believed.
I began to realize something was missing in my life. It didn’t seem to matter how many things I’d done, or where I’d been, I felt an emptiness inside, a kind of lost and restless feeling, wondering what it was all about.
One day I picked up a bible. What made me do that? at the time I would have said it was the cover that caught my eye, which was very bright and colourful with the word ‘youth’ written on it. It was so easy to read that I actually couldn’t put it down. This time the words as I read them seemed so clear to me I was beginning to actually understand for myself what was written, it meant something to me, it was personal, not just history notes.
I prayed to God continually to make me understand it and He did indeed open my eyes. I realized my life and the way I lived it was not the way God had intended. I had turned away from God when He had done so much for me.
I described it like the end of an evening at a club when the lights go on. No longer is there great music & atmosphere, dazzling lights and entertaining people – there was a plain, dirty room with spilt drink, cigarette ends and all sorts of rubbish all over the floor. Everything that had been disguised by ‘fun’ had been exposed.
Even though I knew God knew all about my life, I confessed everything to Him asking for forgiveness and asking Him into my life. Could I have forgiven someone who had treated me so badly? God has promised that He will forgive and I know that I am saved from the punishment that I am due. After making that commitment I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. It was the beginning of a new life, a new direction.
My new life doesn’t mean I’m perfect with no more problems after all I’m still only human! I still live with trials and temptations all around me. Sin constantly rears its ugly head and tries to catch me unaware and pull me away. I have drifted away from God, it started so subtly, making less and less time for God wanting to do other things which I considered important, making plausibly excuses to myself for doing certain wrong things. God though has promised that He will never leave me. He hadn’t made me accidentally pick up the bible in the first place years before. I was chosen, it was in His plans and because He loves me with an everlasting love He will not let me go and has brought me back.
I now go through life, with its ups and downs, with a deep contentment and peace that just isn’t possible without trusting in Him. I now know what life is all about. Having a real joy through being saved is amazing truly amazing and the best bit – I’m going to be with Him in heaven.
John 3 v 16
God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but have eternal life.
Romans 8 v 28
We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him.
Jerimiah 29 v 11
“I know what I am planning for you…” says the Lord